3 Count: Blackbeard’s Re-Revenge

A different way to talk about copyright and piracy...

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1: Blackbeard’s Ship Embarks for Supreme Court in Video Piracy Case

First off today, Andrew Chung at Reuters reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will hear a case dealing with both state liability for copyright infringement and Blackbeard’s sunken pirate ship.

The case pits Frederick Allen against the state of North Carolina. According to Allen, North Carolina used video and images he captured of a salvage operation on The Queen Anne’s Revenge on a state agency website without permission. He filed a lawsuit citing a 1990 law that said states could be held liable for copyright infringement but the lower courts found that law to be unconstitutional, citing sovereign immunity, which gives states immunity in federal courts.

According to Allen, the state is flagrantly infringing his copyright and using sovereign immunity to avoid paying damages. However, North Carolina contends that the 1990 law is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will hear the case in their next term, which begins in October.

2: Copyright Office to Hill: Let STELAR Expire

Next up today, John Eggerton at Broadcast and Cable reports that the United States Copyright Office has sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee asking Congress to allow the STELAR Act to expire.

The act allows satellite TV operators to import distant network-affiliated TV signals. It is why many satellite customers get their NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox channels from far-flung locations. The act needs to be reauthorized every five years and is set to expire at the end of this year unless it is renewed.

The Copyright Office is asking Congress to let it expire, saying that it negatively impacts broadcasters by tacking on administrative fees to the U.S. Copyright Office, which collects the royalties, and to customers who don’t get their local stations since it is often cheaper for satellite companies to import more distant networks.

3: Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard sues Nike for Copyrighting Logo Without his Consent

Finally today, DJ Siddiqi at CBS Sports reports that NBA star Kawhi Leonard has filed a lawsuit against Nike alleging that the shoemaker illegally filed a copyright registration for a claw logo that he created.

At issue is the “Klaw” logo that is often seen on the back of Leonard’s shoes. According to the lawsuit, he drew the logo shortly after being drafted to the NBA and, after he signed an endorsement deal with Nike years later, allowed Nike to use the logo on their merchandise while he could still use it on non-Nike goods.

The problem came when, according to Leonard, Nike filed a copyright registration for the work and omitted him as the author. The move comes after Leonard’s deal with Nike ended and he signed a new endorsement deal with new Balance.

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